SAD Treatment: How to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder

Feeling down in the dumps lately? Seasonal Affective Disorder (also called SAD) might be to blame. The mood disorder, which affects 10 to 20 percent of people, can occur during any seasonal change, but it’s most common in the winter months. Whether or not you think SAD is to blame for your moodiness, exhaustion, or irritability, these out-of-the-box solutions may help get you out of your seasonal slump.

Spend some time with animals

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If the trending videos on the Internet of adorable pets aren’t proof enough, pets have serious healing powers. In fact, research continues to prove that the unconditional love and support pets provide can guard us against depression, stress, and loneliness. “If you are a pet owner, take time each day to touch, play, or chat with your animal,” suggests Mayra Mendez, PhD, psychotherapist and program coordinator at Providence Saint John’s Child and Family Development Center in Santa Monica, California. If you don’t have a pet, volunteer at your local animal shelter or even try cuddling with a stuffed animal or furry blanket for a few moments, she says. Try these little ways to avoid SAD this season.

Take a warm, relaxing shower

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Have you ever noticed how good you feel when you’re walking along the beach or standing next to a waterfall? That’s because rushing water and other elements of nature are chock-full of negative ions. “A negative ion is simply an atom that has an extra electron and a positive effect on our mind, body, and soul,” says Jennifer Blough, LLPC, professional counselor and owner of Deepwater Counseling in Ypsilanti, Michigan. “Positive ions, on the other hand, are produced by things such as electronics or air pollution and make us feel sluggish and depressed.” One of the easiest ways to get a healthy dose of feel-good ions? Take a shower and literally wash away your blues. 

Maintain a regular fitness routine

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Exercise is the most effective, natural means for combating the blues and restoring health to the body. “The body’s designed to be rewarded with feel-good chemicals called endorphins in response to movement,” says Robin H-C, behaviorist and bestselling author of Thinking Your Way to Happy. “These chemicals create a sense of well-being, have an analgesic effect on the body, aid in relaxation, and enhance one’s ability to deal with life’s challenges and stressors.” If you don’t have a regular exercise routine, this is a great reason to start one. “Winter is a good time to join an exercise group, gym activities or other type of program that’ll help you create a regular routine and have support in maintaining it,” says Jennifer Horton, MS, life coach. While it might seem counteractive to go outside in the winter, breathing in fresh air and getting natural light will have a positive impact on your mood, too, so bundle up and head out for a soul stroll when you can. Here’s how to stay healthy and safe when exercising outdoors in winter.

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